Polycomb group protein EZH2-mediated E-cadherin repression promotes metastasis of oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma

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Enhancer of Zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) is a critical component of the polycomb-repressive complex 2 (PRC2) that regulates many essential biological processes, including embryogenesis and many developmental events. The oncogenic role of EZH2 has recently been implicated in several cancer types. In this study, we first confirmed that the over-expression of EZH2 is a frequent event in oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (OTSCC). We further demonstrated that EZH2 over-expression is correlated with advanced stages of the disease and is associated with lymph node metastasis. Statistical analysis revealed that EZH2 over-expression was correlated with reduced overall survival. Furthermore, over-expression of EZH2 was correlated with reduced expression of tumor suppressor gene E-cadherin. These observations were confirmed in vitro, in which knockdown of EZH2-induced E-cadherin expression and reduced cell migration and invasion. In contrast, ectopic transfection of EZH2 led to reduced E-cadherin expression and enhanced cell migration and invasion. Furthermore, EZH2 may act on cell migration in part by suppressing the E-cadherin expression. Taken together, these data suggest that EZH2 plays major roles in the progression of OTSCC, and may serve as a biomarker or therapeutic target for patients at risk of metastasis. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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